Jon Teske on how he approaches his role with the Wolverines. Angelique S. Chengelis, The Detroit News
Ann Arbor — Backup sophomore center Jon Teske entered late in the first half against Central Michigan on Monday night and injected some life into Michigan and shifted momentum.
Teske played 10 minutes, well above the 3.1 he averaged in 20 games last season, had two blocks, a steal and four points, all on free throws. And most importantly, he played more aggressively. That has been his focus in the offseason — get aggressive and earn more playing time as Moritz Wagner’s backup.
Michigan coach John Beilein described Teske’s performance in the 72-65 victory over CMU as “the best he’s ever played.”
The Wolverines (2-0) play Southern Mississippi tonight at Crisler Center, and Beilein is hopeful Teske can build on his performance. Teske and Austin Davis play behind Wagner.
“He’s got to know he’s got another level,” Beilein said. “As we go through the years of teaching and teaching, there’s a time that now they have to understand, ‘Wait a minute. I’ve been here for a year, I have more in me.’
“We really challenged him in that game and we’re going to challenge him every day. Sometimes as a coach I can be too much of a teacher and not enough of demanding of people. I’ve been really demanding of Jon and Austin (Davis) the last couple of weeks. I said, ‘You’re better than this. You can play better than this.”
The soft-spoken Teske said he watched and learned while sitting on the bench last season. He wasn’t playing much, so that afforded him time to gather information from which to build heading into this year.
He said he was determined to help the team in any way possible this year and knew what he had to improve to make a difference. He said worked on being more aggressive and communicating more on both sides.
Michigan coach John Beilein on attention to fundamentals. Angelique S. Chengelis, The Detroit News
“I’m just going out every day in practice, just trying to get better each and every day, knowing that there are some minutes available behind Moe and competing with Austin, making him better,” Teske said Wednesday. “He’s making me better, we’re making Moe better. It’s kind of a three-headed monster competing for minutes, and it’s really helping the team out.”
The Wolverines will be playing their third game in six days.
“And each time I think we’re playing a team with a little bit more talent level,” Beilein said, adding Southern Miss, which has been in a rebuilding process, is finally putting pieces together. “We’ve got to continue to play better, get off to better starts. We probably will see some man-to-man for the first time, so it will be interesting to see how we perform against man-to-man.
Michigan will then travel to Hawaii to play in the three-day Maui Invitational.
Teske should see more playing time during that stretch, but Beilein said Davis is still in the mix for the backup center gig.
“Guys are always telling me, ‘Do this, do that,’” Teske said. “And I know that I’m capable of doing that and going out there and trying to help the team win.”
Michigan vs. Southern Mississippi
When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
Where: Crisler Center, Ann Arbor
TV / radio: BTN-Plus / WWJ 950
Records: Michigan 2-0, Southern Mississippi 1-0